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Network Your Jobs

 

by Laura Henshaw

As career practitioners, it is a reality that, at various points in our lives, we will have to use for ourselves the advice that we give to our clients. In this personal account of her own job hunting, Laura Henshaw, who graduated in 2010 from the Career and Work Counsellor (CWC) program at George Brown College, tells us of her experience finding work as a career practitioner, still at the beginning of her career, in a difficult labour market. Lessons learned? Do not look down on volunteering and temporary work as a way to get experience and create ties! And also, network, network, network!

I had already decided that after years of school it was time for a much needed break. I spent most of 2011 in Australia travelling, as well as working in various administrative positions. I came back to Canada just in time for Christmas/seasonal jobs—or so I thought. I had hoped that it would be easy for me to find a temporary job, so that I could focus on finding work in my field after Christmas; however, it appeared that these industries started hiring for seasonal positions much earlier than I had remembered.

As it turned out, the work I really needed came not from answering ads or sending resumes, but from my network. I had updated my Facebook status a couple times before I moved back home to Canada asking my friends if they knew of any places that were hiring seasonally or more long-term. After only three days of being home, I received a message from my former supervisor at York University’s Career Centre regarding a three-month opportunity there. I had completed a practicum placement there during my studies in the CWC program, working as a Job Search Advisor. The Career Centre was a place that I really enjoyed working at—during my practicum, my colleagues were so friendly, willing to help and very welcoming, but I did not expect that my practicum could turn into a work contract with them, especially a year and a half later! Needless to say, I was glad I had kept in contact with them after my practicum had ended.

After a couple of days of correspondence, I was told I had a job as a Co-op & Internship Assistant starting the following week—just in time for Christmas, and before the rush of the 2011 graduates from the CWC program started their own job searches. My role was mostly research-based – looking up resources on co-op and internship programs at other colleges and universities, seeing what resources these programs had to assist students and looking for new employers to reach out to about the newly expanded internship program.

During this time, I started my dreaded job search for other options once the contract would be over, but I found that while I was applying to many different opportunities, there was a lot of competition for these jobs.

However, as the end of my contract was approaching, it was extended for a few more weeks; and again, when it came to a definite end, the Career Centre offered me another temporary position, filling in temporarily for the Career Centre’s Events Co-ordinator, as my colleague in the role had taken up another job opportunity for the next few months. I happily accepted and am currently still filling in for the position almost two months later.

Over the past few months I have experienced for myself one of the biggest lessons that the CWC program taught me – don’t forget about your networks! Networking has proved to be extremely helpful to me, and I am so thankful that I stayed in contact during my year abroad. I now have three different experiences under my belt from York, all of which have taught me so much. I have also learned to keep in mind the different opportunities and benefits that may come from volunteering, placements and contract work—although it may not be ideal at first, the experience I gained through volunteering and practicum placements really ended up being invaluable.

 

Laura Henshaw has over three years’ experience working at career centres in post-secondary settings. Even while taking a year off to work and travel, Laura still found opportunities to stay connected and work in the career practitioner field. She is currently working at York University’s Career Centre.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 10:57

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Laura Henshaw

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